Fingal Head Lighthouse

Even though the Fingal Head light tower is not high and it is built on a low headland the lighthouse is effective as it is built on one of the most easterly points of Australia. It is however obscured by Cook Island. It was recommended in the 1912 Brewis Report into Coastal lights that Fingal Head be discontinued and a light on Cook Island be established. This recommendation was not followed and the light remains active. It was not until 1971 that a light was established on Point Danger to complement the Final Head light.


The 1860s saw an increase in shipping trade with the new colony of Queensland. Three reefs running out almost 7km from Fingal Head and Cook Island itself were a constant danger as there is deep water close to shore.

The first lighthouse on Fingal Head was lit in 1872. The Tweed Heads Pilot noted in his logbook on March 20 “Brown and the Carpenter at Fingal Head, took lantern, two lamps, six chimnies (sic) feeder, and three quarts of kerosene oil up to Fingal Pt. Saw the lamp lit. Collins on watch. Light burned well all night without trimming.” The lighthouse was a makeshift platform consisting of timber spars forming what was described as a pigeon loft.

The present lighthouse was completed in 1879 and handed over to Lightkeeper William Arnold on 30 March 1879. It is one of five similiar lights designed by Colonial architect James Barnett. The five lights were built with adjoining  rooms. Fingal Head and Richmond River had their adjointing rooms demolished when the lights were  converted to acetylene gas and automated. The light tower is the oldest public building in the Tweed Shire. 


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© All images are copyright of their respective photographers and are not to be used without permission.

Title Address Description
Point Danger
3 Tweed Terrace, Coolangatta QLD 4225, AustraliaPoint Danger
Fingal Head
1B Lighthouse Parade, Fingal Head NSW 2487, AustraliaFingal Head
Cape Byron
Cape Byron Walking Track, Byron Bay NSW 2481, AustraliaCape Byron

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The first apparatus was a Chance Bros 4th order Catadioptric fixed lens illuminanted by a two wick burner producing 1,000 candelas giving a range of 12 nautical miles. The light was converted to automatic acetylene operation in 1923 with an output of 1,500 candelas and altered to group flashing. The one keeper was withdrawn at this time.

In 1970 the light was converted to mains electricity. Fingal Head was converted to an LED light source in early 2021 with the installation of a fixed high intensity LED beacon. The light retains a red sector to warn of the off shore dangers around Cook Island.


The lighthouse keeper’s residence was built in 1879 and demolished in 1923 when the light was automated. The foundations are visible nearby the lighthouse. William Arnold, the first lighthouse keeper, his wife Henrietta and 11 children lived here for 27 years until 1st September 1906 when he retired. Arnold was followed by Francis Brady 1906-1910, Charles Leverton 1910-1919 and Charles Thompson 1919-1920 (1923?)

We need your help in compiling a list of keepers for this lighthouse. If you have any information then send it to

Please include this lighthouse’s name, the keepers full name and what years they were keepers. Also include the same information for any other lights they were on.

Technical Details

First Exhibited1872
Current Tower1872
LocationLat. 28°12'1.11"S Long. 153°34'15.93"E
Original OpticChance Bros 4th order fixed
Current OpticSealite SL-300 single tear high intensity LED beacon
Height7 m
Elevation24 m
RangeWhite 17 NM Red 14 NM
CharacterFl. 5s
IntensityWhite 37,000 cd; Red 9,000 cd
Light SourceHigh efficiency LED's
Power SourceMains Electricity, Battery Standby
OperatorNSW Transport Maritime Services
CustodianNSW Department of Industry Crown Lands
  NB: Information is historical data and is not for navigational purposes.


The Fingal Head Lighthouse is located on the southern head of the Tweed River, which divides New South Wales and Queensland. Park at the end of Lighthouse Parade and take the short walk to the Lighthouse.







Associated Lighthouses

Point Danger Lighthouse

Richmond River – Ballina

Clarence River – Yamba

Tacking Point

Crowdy Head


Fingal Head by Grant Maizels  External link


  • A Small Island : A Short History Of Cook Island, The Fingal and Point Danger Lighthouses, and Their Environs / Researched and Compiled by Syd Miller For The Tweed Heads Historical Society Inc – National Library of Australia
  • Dirk Selderyk for Photographs
  • Roxford Bree for Photographs
  • Cyril Curtain for Photographs
  • Ian Clifford for Photographs & Technical Data
  • Averil Legg
  • From Dusk Till Dawn by Gordon Reid
  • Mary Shelley Clark and Jack Clark
  • Sydney AFLOAT
  • W. Lippingwell, Coastal Lighthouses of NSW, 1938